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The Boleyn Women: The Tudor Femmes Fatales Who Changed English History [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Norton
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 July 2013
The Boleyn family appeared from nowhere at the end of the fourteenth century, moving from peasant to princess in only a few generations. The women of the family brought about its advancement, beginning with the heiresses Alice Bracton Boleyn, Anne Hoo Boleyn and Margaret Butler Boleyn who brought wealth and aristocratic connections. Then there was Elizabeth Howard Boleyn, who was rumoured to have been the mistress of Henry VIII, along with her daughter Mary and niece Madge, who certainly were. Anne Boleyn became the king's second wife and her aunts, Lady Boleyn and Lady Shelton, helped bring her to the block. The infamous Jane Boleyn, the last of her generation, betrayed her husband before dying on the scaffold with Queen Catherine Howard. The next generation was no less turbulent and Catherine Carey, the daughter of Mary Boleyn fled from England to avoid persecution under Mary Tudor. Her daughter, Lettice was locked in bitter rivalry with the greatest Boleyn lady of all, Elizabeth I, winning the battle for the affections of Robert Dudley but losing her position in society as a consequence. Finally, another Catherine Carey, the Countess of Nottingham, was so close to her cousin, the queen, that Elizabeth died of grief following her death. The Boleyn family was the most ambitious dynasty of the sixteenth century, rising dramatically to prominence in the early years of a century that would end with a Boleyn on the throne.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (15 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848689888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848689886
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Elizabeth Norton gained her first degree from the University of Cambridge, and her Masters from the University of Oxford. She is the author of ten books on the Tudors. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough for a book 22 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to this book but I was left disappointed. The book is still only half-finished and I don't have the will to go on with it. It's a bit boring to be honest and difficult to work out who was who, not helped of course by the fact that a lot of the Boleyn women where called Anne. I kept having to go back to work out how many generations down we were, even though the author added surnames to each Boleyn lady to help work out who was who and where we were in the timeline. It was all just too complicated and with not enough interesting facts (because there's not enough information remaining about this period in history).
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0 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Soon 18 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Review pending. I'll be in a better position to say something - complimentary or otherwise - once I've read it!
A quick skim looks promising; the reading season looms - and the allotment fruit still to be harvested.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only for the real Tudorphiles 3 Sep 2013
By Carole P. Roman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I always want to know about the ancestors of important people. This book goes up and down the Boleyn family tree, but doesn't give you more than an accounting of the many female sprouts on its branches. There is not much information that we don't already know- and I wish there was more on Elizabeth's interesting cousins Lettice and her daughter Penelope Rich.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Boleyn Women 8 Nov 2013
By Sylwia S. Zupanec - Published on
Elizabeth Norton's "The Boleyn Women" is a study of eight generations of Boleyn women, from the first 'Anne Boleyn' who lived during the Middle Ages to the Queen Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth I.

The Boleyn family first emerged in the late fourteenth century at Salle in Norfolk. Norton points out that "the family's origins were deeply unpromising and an observer in the thirteenth, fourteenth and even fifteenth century would never dreamed that the family would produce two queens of England" (p. 9) and that "while the family may have had tenuous claims to gentle status they were more appropriately part of the yeoman class - prosperous tenant farmers, with the focus of their activities at Salle"(p.11)

One of the family's chief male representatives was Geoffrey Boleyn, a man who started his career as a hatter and later, thanks to his determination and hard work, became wealthy mercer and Lord Mayor of London. The first recorded Boleyn woman was Emma Boleyn, noted in a court roll in 1377; apart from her name, however, nothing is known of her life. Although so many Boleyn women entered the pages of history, they remain unknown to us.

One of my favourite parts of this book was discussion about Anne Boleyn's aunts. "Lady Boleyn" who accompanied Anne Boleyn in the Tower is usually described in historical books simply as "Lady Boleyn" or as Anne Tempest Boleyn. Elizabeth Norton, however, points out that "Lady Boleyn" was Elizabeth Wood Boleyn, the wife of James Boleyn (brother of Thomas Boleyn).

I enjoyed reading about female relatives of Anne Boleyn and I think it's important to learn more about ancestors of famous historical figures.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biographies of Several Generations of Boleyn Women 9 Dec 2013
By MissDaisyAnne - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Source: Free copy from Amberley for the purpose of review.
Anne Boleyn is infamous as being Henry's tumultuous second wife. Her sister Mary was known as his mistress; however, what do we know of the other Boleyn women who lived in the 13th (late 1200s) through 17th centuries (1603); each with ambitions, intelligence, and leaving their own mark in history.
The following women are depicted in The Boleyn Women:

Alice Bracton Boleyn
Anne Hoo Boleyn
Anne Boleyn Heydon
Margaret Butler Boleyn
Elizabeth Howard Boleyn
Mary Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Anne Tempest Boleyn
Elizabeth Wood Boleyn, Lady Boleyn
Margaret (Madge) Shelton
Mary Shelton
Jane Parker Boleyn, Lady Rochford
Catherine Carey Knollys, daughter of Mary Boleyn
Lettice Knollys Dudley
Elizabeth I

This is the third book I've read by Elizabeth Norton. In all three books I've come to enjoy the detailed significant research brought forth, certain points I'd not read about before, an unbiased opinion, and characters in history that are dimensional.
Anne Boleyn is the most interesting of all the Boleyn women. I've read several books on her and still, she is a complicated person to describe in one sentence. She's a polarity of character traits, maybe this is one of the reasons she's such an enigma. I'm reminded of the ole nursery rhyme: "When she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was awful." Mary Boleyn did not seek to be more than a mistress, her sister Anne's ambitions were higher. I feel Elizabeth Norton gave me a strong view of Anne. Books on Anne that I've read before have focused on either a good and martyred Anne, or a villainous Anne.
I'd not read before of a "scuffle" between Anne and Henry's next wife Jane Seymour. I wonder if Henry was amused by this, angered, or if his already inflated pride swelled more?
Anne was a strong-willed woman, this personality trait rubbed Henry the wrong way after they were married, he wanted an obedient wife like Jane.
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull history 25 Aug 2013
By Jon Swift - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The lives of the Boleyn women seems to contain little and without Ann Boleyn and Elizabeth I would not have contained enough to call a book.
Generally dulli in style and repetitive, padded.
Skip it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 10 April 2014
By Kim - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be highly informative and written extremely well. Norton was thorough in her research and organized her information in such a way that she kept my attention from start to finish.

So much is written about Anne Boleyn, her immediate family, and their spectacular rise and fall in the court of Henry VIII, but few have ever really thought to look at the origins of the Boleyn family and how they rose to prominance, culminating in Anne's eventual rise to become the second wife of Henry VIII, to Elizabeth Tudor's rise to become a queen in her own right.

Norton explores the Boleyn family's early days, how they were able to make increasingly advantageous marriages to wealthy heiresses, the greatest probably being when Thomas Boleyn married Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the then-Earl of Surrey (later the 2nd Duke of Norfolk). She also covers Anne, her sister Mary, and even a little of their daughters, particularly the Carey and Knollys women who were some of the closest companions (or bitterest rivals) of Elizabeth I.

I absolutely loved this entire book, learning so much that I didn't know about one of the Tudor era's most influential families. It's worth every penny.
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